Hosted by an eclectically elegant collection of inns and museums peppered throughout the St. Croix River Valley, the 2011 Chocolate March launches guests on self-guided, cocoa-centric excursions. Guests munch on chocolate delicacies and take in architectural desserts with chocolate-dipped innkeepers at five separate stops, one of which will feature a wine pairing, on the Sunday jaunts (different destinations are featured each weekend). Depending on their chosen date, chocolate hunters can relax under the mannered, leaf-shaded porticos of Rosewood's Queen Anne mansion, take in the brick-draped Gilded Age grandeur of the Water Street Inn, or plot a sweet rustic retreat or candy-coated coup d'état by Wissahickon Farms' general store façade and peppermint-stick split-rail fence.
Hudson Optical adorns oculars with a range of budget and high-end eyewear for men, women, and children. Visitors can choose from an extensive selection of brands, such as Kashiyama Japanese eyewear, Dolce & Gabbana, and Ice Cream French Eyewear, as they seek to pair elegant frames with eligible lenses like a Victorian matchmaker. Frames designed by Kennith Cole ($159), BCBG ($189), and Cole Haan ($199) comfortably perch on bridges of noses, while eye-opening bifocals range from the Crizal Avancé bifocals ($290) to the Varilux Progressive Transition lenses ($375). Hudson Optical can perform eye exams on-site but welcomes outside prescriptions as well. Groupon customers will also receive a complimentary deluxe case, cleaner kit, and portable fire hydrant to keep the spectacles spick-and-span.
The Minnesota Saddlebred Horse Association unites stables across the state, showcasing the diversity of the american saddlebred, as well as training future equestrians with individually tailored riding lessons. After arriving in long pants and sturdy, low-heel shoes, riders don helmets as instructors commence half-hour equine adventures to acquaint students with an agreeable saddlebred, whose manner and relaxed gait are perfect for human accompaniment and a marked advantage in "act casual" situations. The average lesson covers mounting and dismounting, walking and trotting, rein control, and how to properly engage with the horse. In addition, riders will spend time learning how horses think and react in common situations. The MSHA's participating stables open on evenings and weekends for man-to-beast interactions after school or work; customers should note that Lear Stables in Hastings is not heated.